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Gamecocks, Heels clash

Its opening night of the college football season on Thursday and it begins with a territorial rivalry between North Carolina and South Carolina. These two schools last met in 2007 when the South Carolina Gamecocks went out on the road and won 21-15. SC failed to cover the -7 spread in that game however and with them being in the top-10 in terms of odds to win the BCS Championship this season, some might think this two-TD spread may be a little too much.

This time around the game is at home for South Carolina which should help, but the fact that it’s the season opener isn’t the best thing. With a tough SEC contest @ Georgia next week, the Gamecocks are hoping to make this one an easy victory without showing too much of themselves on tape for Georgia to study. Georgia and South Carolina are the two favorites to come out of the SEC East so there is no doubt in my mind that South Carolina has spent a lot of this summer preparing for Game #2 on their schedule.

That means we’ve got a potential look-ahead spot in this game as the Gamecocks just want to leave town with a win. Obviously the competitive juices will be flowing on both sidelines given it’s the season opener, but this spread has got a little out of hand in my opinion.

Way back when the lines first came out, South Carolina was pegged at -10 for this game. Now, with all the Jadeveon Clowney hype this off-season and a strong returning class, South Carolina fans and bettors across the nation are anxious to get down on the Gamecocks early this year. But the value has completely evaporated with South Carolina on this game and if this line hits -14 or higher it’s time to start looking the other way.

However, because we’ve got the Gamecocks in a look-ahead spot and in a situation where they want to be very “vanilla” on both sides of the ball, there is value in the over 56.5. This Gamecocks offense can put up points as they scored 30+ in three of their last five in 2012 and are playing a defense that allowed 33 or more in five of their past seven games a season ago.

Senior QB Connor Shaw will be more than ready to lead his team up and down the field vs. the Tar Heels in this one as the Gamecocks will reach the 30+ point plateau once again. But, it’s that “vanilla” mindset on defense that will allow the Tar Heels to put up some points of their own in this contest as they’ve got nothing to lose going up against one of the big SEC dogs in the season opener.

As a program, the Tar Heels have scored 35 or more in a season opener five of the past six years and won’t be shy to test the de-facto #1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft in Clowney. SC will not want to go out there and put all of their elaborate defensive schemes and blitzes on tape for Georgia to study, so generic 4-3 and 3-4 sets will be prone to the big play against a rowdy underdog with nothing to lose.

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